Majority of men aren’t predators
THE #metoo campaign is in real danger of becoming a general attack on men. For those who missed it or aren’t on social media, it’s a hashtag which started in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story. It was supposed to show support from the sisterhood to victims of sexual harassment. Let them know that they aren’t alone, that it’s happened to “me too”.
But it’s also become an outlet for those who want to shame alleged abusers by naming them publicly. Let’s be clear. Sexual harassment is real, vile and not to be diminished. If it goes so far as to become sexual assault or worse, rape, it’s a crime that should mean jail time.
But the social media campaign has lurched from being well intentioned to making all men look like potential predators ready to attack but for the muzzle of civility we have forced them to wear.
Men shouldn’t have to sit at home scouring their memories for every awkward, clumsy or dumb line they’ve ever tried on a girl; or for throwing their arm around the shoulder of someone at the office Christmas party after too much festive merriment; or for getting the signs oh so wrong or just flat out trying it on with a woman who wasn’t interested in them.
Just because a bloke makes a pass at a colleague who is either younger or below them in the food chain doesn’t mean it’s harassment. Otherwise there would be no such thing as office romances. A bawdy joke, flippant remark, teasing or an isolated incident doesn’t fall into that category either.
Before you scream that women know the difference very well, many do — but I can’t believe that everyone who has posted a #metoo has been the victim of the type of harassment we should be calling out. And by saying we are all victims, we aren’t lending support to those who have suffered, we are somehow vaguely comparing experiences when very few of us could ever understand what it’s like to endure a campaign of Weinstein-like intimidation.
It will never be as simple as “look but don’t touch”, but the problem is that what counts as harassment to one person is not to another. Discrimination because of race, gender or sexuality is far easier to call out. Decent men shouldn’t be afraid that all it will take is their unintended breach of indistinct boundaries for them to be shamed in a public forum.
And I don’t want my thoroughly decent male friends and colleagues to feel that they have to apologise for the actions of utter pigs.